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Medical Colic Therapy

Horses are notorious for colic and are predisposed to it when compared to other species.

Signs of colic include but are not limited to:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Depression/Lethargy
  • Looking/biting at the flanks
  • Stretching as if to urinate
  • Kicking at the abdomen
  • Rolling in pain.

Most often horses with colic have an over accumulation of gas in their intestines (“gas colic”)or a mild impaction. The cause is often times undetermined but can be triggered by:

  • Changes in feed type, quantity, or timing
  • Dental abnormalities
  • Environmental stress (“change in the weather)
  • Transportation to name a few

In over 95% of the cases of colic can be managed medically. Medical treatments include:

  • NSAID (non-steroidal antinflammatory)
  • Sedatives
  • Nasogastric Intubation- oral fluid therapy
  • Intravenous Fluid Therapy

Equine-anatomy-intestine-300x230NSAIDs (Banamine™) and sedatives are used for the relief of pain. Nasogastric intubation is performed to relieve gas pressure from the stomach, and to empty the stomach of feed and water that are not passing through in a normal time frame. Once the tube is passed and gas relieved, medication may be pumped down the tube.

Rectal exams can help determine the severity of a colic case. Some impactions may be felt, the portion of intestine involved can be determined, and the amount of gas in the intestine can often be evaluated. Horses with colic pain are under stress and this stress can lead to fluids being shifted from their blood into their intestines. This is frequently why they become dehydrated and need fluids to prevent the colic from progressing and to help them get their intestines working in a normal fashion. They also support the patient until the colic has passed. Fluids can be given via a stomach tube or by an IV catheter. Intra-venous fluids are one of the most important therapies for horses with more serious colic. Our new equine addition is specifically designed to be able to administer IV fluids to colic cases year round.

Some combination of the above therapy will bring >95% of horses with abdominal pain through it just fine.